An animal charity has condemned the rise in gun attacks on family pets over the past year.
As reported in the Gazette last week owners have seen their pets, in particular cats, left with horrific injuries after being shot by air and BB guns.
RSPCA vet David Grant said the severity of injuries inflicted by air guns has increased dramatically with pellets smashing bones and embedding in the animal’s body.
Mr Grant, director of the charity’s Hamsworth animal hospital, said: “We’re seeing far too many animals being brought in for treatment suffering from life-threatening injuries.
“After nearly 43 years as a qualified vet, the severity of injuries inflicted by air guns has increased dramatically. Modern air guns have immense power and the pellets are not being embedded on the surface of the cat, as I used to regularly deal with, but are now passing through the body and smashing bones to smithereens.
Family pets in Ripon and surrounding villages have been targeted in air and BB gun attacks which have been condemned by the charity.
As the Gazette reported last week, a Ripon family were horrified to find their cat Alfie had been shot twice by an air rifle, leaving him with a severely shattered leg and needing hundred of pounds worth of vet treatment for his injuries.
Since then a Markington couple have come forward to report an attack that left their pet blind in one eye after he was shot in the head at point blank range.
Beverley Turner and Kev Tench’s three cats had been outside for less than 15 minutes before they found one of the cats, Bruno, with what looked like a scratch on his eye.
Kev said: “Beverely was getting the children ready for school and let the cats out at about 8am. I happened to pop outside and saw him cowering in the corner of the garden, and something caught my eye. His face didn’t look right, and I saw there was blood coming out of his eye.
“There’s a peacock in the field near our house, so to begin with I thought he had got too close and the peacock had scratched him.”
Kev and Beverley took Bruno to their vet, who immediately suspected the cat had been shot.
“We didn’t believe it, we thought nobody around here would do that, we just live on a little estate” Kev said.
The vet then suggested Bruno could have been hit by a car, but as the family live on a quiet cul-de-sac and the cats had only been out for around 10 minutes, the couple knew that was impossible.
An X-ray soon showed a pellet lodged inside Bruno’s head, and although they first suspected children with a BB gun the X-ray showed the pellet came from a .22 rifle, classed as a firearm, rather than a BB gun, which is classed as a toy.
The vet could also see that Bruno had been shot from a very short distance away, and the pellet had missed the cat’s cranium by just 3mm, travelled through Bruno’s nose canal and the back of his mouth before stopping in his jaw.
The couple and their two daughters, aged six and eight, were horrified by the attack, which happened in June 2011.
“Bruno is a lovely cat, but I think he is too trusting. He will just go up to anyone at all. Whoever has done this meant to kill him. It’s just shocking.
“Beverley doesn’t let the cats outside now, so it has taken away their freedom.”
With the pellet still lodged in Bruno’s flesh, police and the RSPCA both told Kev and Beverley to wait for it to work its way to the surface of the cat’s skin before they can investigate further.
Mr Grant said: “It is distressing to think that people out there think it’s acceptable to treat animals in this disgraceful way. Animals, especially well-loved pets, are needlessly dying and it must stop.”
Ripon police have confirmed that while attacks like these are not common, they do receive occasional reports and saw two similar incidents in January and February this year.